This morning, 33rd Circuit Court Judge Roy C. Hayes III sentenced Stephen Chandler Benton, 52, of Boyne Falls to nine months in jail, eight held in abeyance and 18 months probation related to his guilty plea on Sept. 11, 2017 to possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver, maintaining a drug house and being a habitual offender.
As part of a plea agreement in the case, prosecutors dismissed another charge of manufacturing marijuana.
The maximum sentence Benton could have received was six years in prison on his charges. Benton also agreed to forfeit $100,000 that was seized by JOLT (Charlevoix County’s Joint Law Enforcement Team).
JOLT also seized over 18 pounds of marijuana and 31 plants. According to price lists maintained by Benton, also seized by police, the marijuana seized and destroyed had a street value of over $125,000.
Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said that while the $100,000 Benton lost through seizure was a significant penalty, it was important that his sentence include jail time.
“It is the wrong message that someone can buy their way out of their crime,” Telgenhof said. “This sentence gives the defendant time in jail to consider his actions and a probationary term to make sure he does not go back into business. If he chooses to do so, he will spend a significant time in jail.”
Benton operated a business that included massage and yoga as well as the illegal sale of marijuana, according to Telgenhof.
While on bond in the Charlevoix County case, Benton was arrested on drug charges out of Emmet County. That case is still pending.